Christmas strategy to avoid weight gain
The holidays are underway and the spirit is full of the joy and warmth of the time spent with friends and family, also it carries with it quite a few nutritional challenges. The favorite, for many, Christmas pastries, the celebratory and family dinners and gatherings during the holiday period demand increased effort to keep our weight down.
Although there is no need to feel guilty for enjoying food more this time of the year, it wouldn’t hurt to avoid gaining weight. And for that we have to be prepared and strategic.
How to organize your diet?
Start with a quality breakfast meal. Choose wholegrain foods (ex. bread, oatmeal) which contain a lot of fiber and will therefore make you feel replete for longer. Also, add a fruit that will give you more energy to start the day. If, because of the holiday, you choose a different breakfast include vegetables in it. For instance, if you wish to make a low calorie omelet with one egg and two egg whites, then add pepper, tomato, spinach and mushrooms, in order to fulfil your daily target for vegetables consumption more easily.
Organize your meal. Instead of nibbling at every single plate in front of you, one at a time, throughout the dinner, make your own plate with a combination of what you want and don’t eat more than that. Salad should account for half of that plate, a quarter of it should be a relevant to your needs quantity of protein, say fish or chicken or red meat. The other quarter should be carbs like rice, pasta, bread etc. In addition, if you are a vegetarian or don’t wish to eat meat, you may choose legume, which is a good source of both protein and carbs while not containing tallow.
Adjust your diet following a big dinner. If you are the host or your host gives you leftovers to take home then you will be facing a two or three days period of high calories meals. Avoid frequent “visits” to the refrigerator and arrange your diet so as to balance out calorie excesses. If you want to be more careful eat less of the leftovers with more salad, if not organize your plate as described above.
Alcohol, snacks and sweets. Alcoholic beverages provide energy, meaning calories. One way to limit alcohol quantity during the holidays is to drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. Make sure a bottle of water is always available in case you are thirsty. Moving on to sweets and pastries, those are hard to neglect during this period and easy to eat a lot. It would be wise to only have them at home at the day you are expecting guests. Having them around all the time is hard to resist. On the contrary, prefer healthier Christmas snacks like chestnuts, not salted nuts, as well as fresh or dried-up fruits.
Organize your behavior towards food.
Eat “consciously”. Try and “listen” your body’s hunger (and satiation), which differs from a food craving. Realise when you truly are hungry for a food or sweet you like. Furthermore, reflect on what quantity is enough to satisfy your hunger. Instead of eating standing up and hastily, because it’s in front of you, wait until the next meal.
Write down what you ate. Self-observation is a crucial skill when it comes to maintaining or attaining a healthy body weight. Try and keep a record of everything you consumed during the holidays. You could use a simple piece of paper, your diary, a cell phone app (ex the notebook) or even photograph your meals. This will enable you to recall what you had during the day as well as in general, therefore it would be more difficult to lose control. In addition, if you avoid distraction (ex TV) during your meal you could significantly limit calorie intake.
Take a small walk after each meal. Either alone or with company, and if the weather allows it, don’t sit on your couch all afternoon. Try and walk for 15 minutes post meal, which will benefit your digestion.
At the end of the holidays, and despite your best intentions, your body weight might have increased slightly. Remember that this is a problem only if it becomes a habit. If you return to a more balanced diet and exercise your weight will too.